ACCORDING to the latest figures on positive tests for Covid-19, we now have 2,025 cases per 100,000 people in West Dunbartonshire. I remember when 50 would trigger a meeting with the First Minister and the Scottish Government’s medical advisers.

On top of that, reports in the national press indicate the UK Government may be considering stopping free lateral flow testing for the general public except in exceptional circumstances.

Regular testing and isolation of those who test positive continues to be vital to controlling the spread of the virus, particularly the current wave of the highly infectious Omicron variant.

Hospitals are fast becoming overwhelmed, with reports of a 50 per cent rise in admissions in a single week, and while there hasn’t been a huge increase in the number of people needing intensive care unit treatment, the unprecedented rise in general admissions, and the pressure that puts on capacity, would be dangerous at the best of times.

Couple that with a large number of NHS staff having Covid and having to isolate themselves, and our NHS really is at risk of being unable to provide the basic services we need in other, non-Covid related, areas.

While the Scottish Government are saying they have no plans to follow suit if the UK Government does decide to stop free testing, the funding for free testing in Scotland will be removed by the UK Treasury and public services will have to be cut to fund it here.

Being a nation within a union of nations where one of those other nations controls our borrowing leaves us without the means to protect our citizens against a Prime Minister – who, let’s not forget, has been quoted as saying: “Let the bodies pile high.”

While numbers of cases are extremely high and we have a UK Government who don’t give a damn about us, it’s vital that we do everything we can to help ourselves and keep ourselves, our family, friends and communities safe.

With nearly everyone over the age 40 in West Dunbartonshire fully vaccinated with at least three inoculations, we’re doing extremely well, but we need more young people to get their jabs, with only 62.5 per cent of all over 18s having had their booster.

I would urge anyone who still hasn’t had their first, second or booster dose to make an appointment or use a drop-in centre (including those between 12 and 18). Details of drop-in centres are regularly updated online; just Google ‘NHSGGC vaccine drop-in centres’.

Finally, I would also remind everyone that if you need to go out in public for any reason, please take a free lateral flow test and only go out if you get a negative result.